Kettlebells Review.

To get into shape for the movie "300," super-hunk-daddy Gerard Butler used a kettlebell workout!

In a world where fitness trends come and go (shake weight, anyone?), one can’t help but be suspicious of kettlebells. Since kettlebell enthusiasts claim you can get an amazing strength training AND cardio workout in just 20 minutes, it begs the question: Do kettlebells really measure up – or are they too good to be true?

The American Council of Exercise, with the help of research experts from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, recruited male and female volunteers that were experienced in kettlebell training. After establishing baselines using a treadmill workout, participants engaged in a 20-minute kettlebell snatch workout.

Here’s what researchers found: Aerobically, participants burned 272 calories in the 20 minute session, or 13.6 calories per minute. Anaerobically and aerobically combined, participants burned a total of 20.2 calories per minute – which, according to the lead researcher is “off the charts.” The incredible calorie burn occurs because the kettlebell snatch workout uses the entire body and is done in an interval-training format. In other words, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

In terms of heart rate, HR averaged 93% for participants. The VO2 max (often considered the best indicator of an athlete’s cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance), however, was 23% higher for the treadmill workout.

What does it all mean?

Researchers, based on the data and comparisons to previous research on weight training, concluded that the kettlebells can provide “one heck of a workout.” Beyond just building your muscles, the kettlebell snatch workout “easily meets industry recommendations for improving aerobic capacity.” In other words, it’s a very intense but efficient workout.

Especially with the busy holiday season upon us, kettlebells can provide a great cardio and strength-training program for people that don’t have a lot of time. Just make sure you work with an instructor, trainer or follow a DVD.

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  1. The effectiveness of a workout is entirely a function of your form, the energy you put into it, and how often you do it. Whether it’s kettle bells or free weights or pulley machines or yoga. You get out what you put in.

    That being said, a big factor that people often ignore in evaluating these things is: how easy is it to do it wrong and either hurt yourself or be ineffective.

    These “studies” don’t measure that. They tell you how effective a workout is under controlled conditions where everyone is doing everything right.

    The problem with that is, when it comes down to it, some exercises are easier to screw up than others. Whenever I see someone doing some kind of combined/core/lift-the-weight-while-standing-on-a-ball-and-balancing-a-stick-on-your-nose type of exercise, I shake my head. I’m sure that, when properly, it works great. I also know that most people can seriously hurt themselves doing it.

  2. What no Davey Does Kettlebell Workout? Heaven forfend!
    BTW your workouts have really helped me in my fitness.Thanks!

  3. Of course kettle balls will do worse in tests of VO2 levels. These exercises are more like weight training than aerobic exercise. A person who focuses on kettle balls as the primary workout tool will do more anaerobic work than someone who balances out the workout routine with cardio.

  4. I agree that kettlebells are one heck of a workout but agree with Dave that you generally get what you put into any workout. What I like about kettlebells is the variety….there are just so many exercises you can perform with just a few different bells (snatch, get up, windmill, clean, press) some if not most can be done with dumbbells but I find that kettlebells up the challenge.
    A kettlebell would make an excellent gift for the fitness nut in your life or a great investment for your own personal fitness. You can find a wide selection here:

  5. christopher says:

    i most certainly agree-kettlebells-are no fad at all.i wish they were available at Cardinal/Charterfitness in Illinois.but ive read about their effectiveness in a number of fitness magazines-i want them.ive seen them.if its a more effective workout-i want them.they were first introduced in Europe-maybe Russia?anyway-i want them.

  6. Kettlebells provide a great workout. I find they are good for functional strength and pre/rehab work if done correctly.

  7. John Prove says:


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    At 75 I’m still using the same Sprint Treadmill Workout. 501 calories in 35 minutes. Not bad at 14.31 Calories a Minute. I have to keep “wiggling”.

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  1. […] Kettlebells: Fab or Fad? | Davey Wavey FitnessDec 5, 2011 … Researchers, based on the data and comparisons to previous research on weight training, concluded that the kettlebells can provide “one heck … […]